Buying Guide for Serving Trays
Why buy a serving tray?
Serving trays are not only incredibly versatile, but they’re also durable and sustainable. They’re great for transporting food and dishes around dinner parties, and they’re great for creating rustic tablescapes. They beautifully display charcuterie and other appetizers and come in handy when carrying platters, cocktails, and desserts. A tiered stand or a sophisticated bar cart can work well with serving trays when serving your guests. Serving trays also aren’t just for dinner parties; they’re perfect for cozying up on the couch or bed with a meal, whether you’re sick or having breakfast in bed.
What should you look for in a serving tray?
- Material: Almost all serving trays are made of metal, wood, or plastic. Metal will typically be the heaviest, the most durable, and the most modern-looking. Wood is strong, aesthetically pleasing, and between metal and plastic in terms of weight. There are also many different types of wood they can be made of, so you may find that wooden ones offer the most variety. Wood is the most common material for home serving trays, as it’s strong and beautiful without being too heavy. Plastic is the lightest material but isn’t as durable or visually appealing, so if you opt for a plastic tray, be sure it’s made of premium material.
- Size: Like many household items, serving trays can come in multiple sizes. When choosing your size, consider your main intended use for the new tray. If you plan to use it for parties and entertaining or for bigger items like cakes or jugs, you’ll probably want to opt for something larger. If it’s just for your personal use, a smaller model will likely serve your needs. You’ll also want to ensure that you feel comfortable carrying the tray. And if you plan to use it for more decorative purposes, you’ll want to be sure it fits on whichever surface you plan to keep it.
- Design: For such a relatively simple item, you will have several design options for selecting a serving tray. They can be rectangular, circular, or oval-shaped. Wooden trays can be naturally dark or light, and metals and plastics can be dyed or tinted in many hues. Some will have deeper sides than others to prevent spills better. The tray itself may be extra thin or extra thick. There are nonslip, bag trays, and nestling trays available if you want additional features or easy storage. You can even buy serving trays in sets.
How should you clean a serving tray?
Most serving trays can be safe to clean in the dishwasher. However, if the serving tray is made of a porous material like wood or ceramic, hand washing is better for preserving it. Before washing your tray, make sure to wipe away large debris. Then, apply gentle dish soap to a hot, damp cloth to thoroughly clean the tray before rinsing it with hot water and towel drying. It’s also important not to soak wooden trays, as this may lead to wood warping. Serving trays are a staple for throwing dinner parties, potlucks, and other events, so ensuring they last you for years by properly cleaning your trays is essential.
Our Picks for the Best Serving Trays
Thirteen Chefs Wine Barrel-Inspired Serving Tray
This affordable, lightweight wooden tray is resistant to heat, odors, stains, and sliding.
Pros: This classic circular tray brings rustic potluck vibes to your at-home dining. Just imagine using it to serve your guests a nice meal or cocktails. Its high-quality cypress wood and steel are durable and resistant to moisture, stains, and odors. Its convenient handles also make it a breeze to carry. The tray is 20 inches in diameter and easily holds large platters and hot plates. The nonslip rubber feet also give the tray extra stability when placed on tables or counters, so you won’t have to worry about sliding or spills.
Cons: The box recommends that you don’t put food directly on the tray’s surface, so you might want to use plates or line the tray with something like doilies or parchment paper.
Bottom Line: This rustic yet refined serving tray’s wine barrel-inspired design adds to its vintage feel. It’s a sturdy, convenient option with its handles and raised edge.
Lipper International Acacia Curved Serving Tray
This beautiful serving tray is made from strong acacia wood, so it should last longer with proper care.
Pros: Sleek yet practical, this tray is designed with cutout handles for a comfortable nonslip grip. It’s made by hand from natural wood with beautiful, natural variances in the grain. And the surface is slightly recessed, which also helps to prevent slippage. You can easily hand-wash this tray when you’re finished serving your favorite snacks or drinks. It’s also the perfect size for entertaining, measuring 19 by 14 inches roughly on the inside.
Cons: This tray does not have padding or felt on the bottom.
Bottom Line: This gorgeous serving tray is made from natural wood that features knots and natural variances that look beautiful in most settings. Serve up all your favorite cocktails, snacks, and even fancy charcuterie on this stunning yet stable tray.
Home Redefined Modern Elegant Serving Tray
Decorated with gold-colored handles, this rectangular white serving tray adds a lovely touch to your tabletop display.
Pros: This eye-catching tray comes in various glossy colors to perfectly match your home decor. It has a variety of uses, including serving food and drinks, surprising a loved one with breakfast in bed, storing and organizing keys and mail in the foyer, storing tv remotes, displaying perfume, cologne, and makeup, or as a centerpiece for plants and other decorations. You can easily hand wash this tray after use, moving it seamlessly from one task to the next. It’s lightweight, measures 18 by 12 by 2 inches, and the handles are solid and durable.
Cons: This tray is shallower than some others.
Bottom Line: This is a wonderful option if you’re looking for a chic serving tray to spice up your home decor. With up to 29 colors to choose from, you’ll find an ideal tray that matches your living space.
Hammont Wooden Nested Serving Trays
A sturdy, sleek, and beautiful set of five wooden serving trays like these will work for multiple uses.
Pros: If you throw a lot of parties or your family prefers to eat in the living room instead of the dining room or kitchen, you may need to invest in more than one serving tray. This set is a great option if you need several trays instead of a single one. Each tray comes in a different size, so you can use them for various items in multiple rooms of your home. The two oval cut-out handles are plenty wide, making it easier and more stable to grip and carry. The deep tray lips keep food and drinks from sliding off, tipping over, or spilling onto the floor.
Cons: This tray is made of natural, raw wood, so you may have to sand the splinters down. These trays also have sharp edges, so you may need to sand them down to prevent them from scratching your shelves.
Bottom Line: These natural and minimalist wooden trays are durable enough to withstand the weight of heavy glasses, plates, and bowls. They come in a set of five and beautifully display food and home decor.
US Acrylic Avant Plastic Serving Trays
This set of sleek, simple, glossy serving trays are durable and lightweight.
Pros: These three rectangular serving trays have a simple, minimal design. Made of BPA-free premium plastic, they’re lightweight yet durable. The plastic won’t shatter like glass or ceramic trays, and the 15- by 10-inch size makes them perfect for displaying meals. The glossy plastic body is top-rack dishwasher-safe for your convenience. The white color won’t clash with your home decor, and the trays are stackable for easy storage.
Cons: These trays don’t have handles, so they’re not as easy to carry. They may also slide around on tables.
Bottom Line: This simple and affordable set of plastic serving trays is great for potlucks, outdoor lunches, and parties. The BPA-free plastic is lightweight, easy to clean, and durable enough to hold large meals, appetizers, and desserts.
From potlucks to picnics to fancy dinner parties, serving trays are a lovely addition to any gathering and make serving your guests or family a breeze. With so many styles, you can stay organized and put together with a tray you truly enjoy and like to look at.